New GPS System Will Tell Riders When the Bus is Coming

Sept. 10, 2007 — Starting in January, riders of University Transit Service buses at the University of Virginia will be able to take advantage of the latest Global Positioning System technology to know, in real time, when their bus will arrive at their stop.

This fall the University's Parking and Transportation Services will begin installing the system from Connexionz on UTS buses. Connexionz is the same system that is being installed by Charlottesville Transit Service.

"We coordinated our selection of Connexionz with CTS in order to share infrastructure and also so that customers would not have to learn two different systems," said Rebecca White, director of Parking and Transportation at U.Va. "This will be a major benefit to passengers of both UTS and CTS, who will be able to make much more effective use of the systems with this major enhancement."

White said that work to implement the system will be under way throughout the fall semester. "Aside from installing the GPS units on buses," she said, "there is significant work necessary to get the system ready. Even when we do go live with our passengers, there will be a period during which we will be tuning the system."

Once implemented, customers will be able to access real-time schedule information on a Web site, and also through the system's "BusFinders" — touch-screen displays installed at 20 of the most popular UTS stops.

In addition to the obvious benefits that customers will gain on a day-to-day basis, the system provides data that will be used in optimizing management of the system.

"We will be able to gather data on traffic and on-time performance that will help us understand what it takes to deliver our schedule most efficiently and effectively," said White.

In 2006-07, UTS had 2.23 million passengers on its routes in addition to 75,000 charter passengers.

The system was purchased with the help of a $40,000 grant from a Safety Task Force created through the U.Va. Parents Committee's annual fundraising efforts, White said.

“We are very appreciative of the support we have received for this initiative from the U.Va. Parents Committee," she said. "This will be a valuable addition to our service.”